Best Cordless Drill 2017

Just as cellular technology freed the telephone, the advent of lithium-ion batteries forever altered the landscape of power tools. While the electric drill was always a homeowner favorite, its cordless version has become truly ubiquitous, appearing in the toolboxes of even casual do-it-yourselfers. The popularity of these drills has led to a wealth of models on the market. With so many to choose from, how can you be sure to pick the best cordless drill for your needs?

Introduction to the Cordless Drill

When you’re trying to find the right cordless drill, it’s easy to get overwhelmed with all the choices and for some, especially inexperienced users, trying to figure out all the features and decide which ones you want or need, it can be downright frustrating. Everything you need to know about finding the right cordless drill is right here so you don’t have to look on multiple sites to gain an understanding of what to look for. After talking to expert users, and doing a lot of internet research, we’ve compiled this informative review for you.

In this review, we’ll cover the top three cordless drills that are in the top three on many review sites and explain why they are so popular. You’ll learn the features of each one and what they are best suited for. Spend your time valuably and don’t waste it going from site to site trying to see which drill is the best. Everything you need to know is right here, all in one place. The objective we have when writing our reviews is to educate you on what makes a great cordless drill so even if you’re inexperienced in using them, you can have confidence in the knowledge we’ve provided you and use that to make the best choice for your drilling needs. All drills are not created equal and we’ll explain the differences in an easy to understand way that will make your choice much easier.

Top Ranked Cordless Drills

RankPictureCordless DrillRPMTorqueGearboxBattery Amp HoursVoltage
1Makita XPH102 18V LXT Lithium-Ion Cordless Hammer Driver-Drill1,500480 Pounds2 Speed3.0 AH18 Volts
2DEWALT DC970K-2 18-Volt Compact Drill1,500380 Pounds2 Speed1.7 AH18 Volts
3Bosch DDS181-02 18-Volt Lithium-Ion 1/2-Inch Compact Tough Drill1,700600 Pounds2 Speed1.3 AH18 Volts
4BLACK+DECKER LDX120C 20-Volt MAX Lithium-Ion Cordless Drill650115 PoundsSingle2.89 AH20 Volts
5PORTER-CABLE PCCK600LB 20-volt 1/2-Inch Lithium Ion Drill1,600531 Pounds2 Speed1.5 AH20 Volts
6Milwaukee 2656-20 M18 1/4" Hex Imp1,700725 Pounds2 Speed4.0 AH18 Volts
7Ingersoll Rand D1130 3/8" 12V Cordless Drill1,600205 Pounds2 Speed2.1 AH12 Volts
8RIDGID 18-Volt X4 Hyper Lithium-Ion Cordless Drill3,1001750 Pounds2 Speed1.5 AH18 Volts
9Erbauer ERI6041PD 18V 2.0Ah Li-Ion Cordless Impact Driver1,600295 Pounds2 Speed2.0 AH12 Volts
10Genesis GCD18BK 18v Cordless Drill550110 Pounds2 Speed1.5 AH18 Volts

Top Pick – Makita XPH102 18V LXT Lithium-Ion Cordless Hammer Driver-Drill

The Makita XPH102 is a powerful cordless drill that delivers 480lbs of torque while only weighing in at 3.9lbs. It has a variable 2-speed that enables the user to perform a wide range of drilling functions. It also has hammer drilling capabilities for those hard applications. The drill is ergonomically designed and is a little under 8 inches in length. Power users and home users will find this a great addition to their tool arsenal.

It has a variable 2-speed design for a wide range of drilling, driving and hammer applications and features extreme protection technology (XPT) which is engineered to provide increased dust and water resistance in harsh job site conditions. Comes in a compact and ergonomic design at only 7-3/4″ long.

DEWALT DC970K-2 18-Volt Compact Drill

Not only is the DEWALT DC970K-2 found in the top three on a lot of review sites, it’s also a number one best seller on Amazon too with over 1,500 customer reviews. This 18-volt drill packs a lot of punch for its size. The powerful motor is protected inside a compact design that gives the user a lot of comfort while using it, especially when using it for extended periods of time in small spaces.

The DEWALT DC970K-2 is perfect for drilling and fastening metal, wood, and plastic and is the right tool for framing, installing cabinets and HVAC work too. Despite its smaller size it makes a great tool for a professional contractor or as an addition to a do-it-yourself-er’s tool collection.

It has a plastic, ½” single-sleeve keyless ratcheting chuck that gives the drill a much tighter grip. This transfers into better bit retention and gives the user increased precision and accuracy when working on drilling/fastening projects

Bosch DDS181-02 18-Volt Lithium-Ion 1/2-Inch Compact Tough Drill

Even though it may cost more than the two models mentioned above, it is still an excellent value and the Bosch name is one that’s a favorite with professionals and do-it-yourselfer’s alike.

The Bosch DDS181-02 is compact and lightweight with an 18-volt battery that provides plenty of power for heavy jobs and around the house projects. You can use this cordless drill for hours without experiencing the user fatigue common in heavier drills.

With a Dura shield housing that guards against it wearing out, you will 35% more runtime and two times the recharge cycle of similar style models. This great drill comes with two Slim Pack 18 volt lithium-ion batteries.

You can screw in approximately 160 3” screws per battery charge with this valuable tool. Its unibody construction and steel-reinforced collar withstands extreme temperatures, rain, debris, drops and dirt.

Top Rated Cordless Drill Summary

The best cordless drill for you is not necessary the most expensive one. There are lots of factors to consider when choosing a cordless drill. If you are not a professional, there is no need to buy the most expensive cordless drill on the market. The professional grade drills are often bigger and heavier than the models that are designed for the DIYer. Make sure that the drill you buy is not to heavy for you as this will result in fatigue and an unpleasant working experience. We list the weight of each drill in our reviews to make it easy for you to compare the different options.

Any one of these cordless drills will make a great addition to your tool collection whether you are a professional or just someone who likes to do a lot of household projects. All of these cordless drills are great quality and have many features that make them easy to use and long lasting as well. When you look for the right cordless drill for you, you can be assured that any of these three models will be just right. Most come with excellent money back guarantees and warranties as well so you can try them out and see if you like the one you chose.

Cordless Drill Buyers Guide

What is a Cordless Drill?

Cordless drills are one of the most versatile tools to have around the home or the wood shop. They can bore holes and drive screws into many different types of material, and because they do not require an A/V connection, they can be used in both indoor and outdoor environments. The versatility that these handy tools have makes them perfect for every tool collection.

They are available in the hammer drill configuration and most have a clutch, which aids in driving screws into various substrates while not damaging them. Also available are right angle drills, which allow a worker to drive screws in a tight space. While 21st century battery innovations allow significantly more drilling, large diameter holes (typically 12–25 mm (0.5–1.0 in) or larger) may drain current cordless drills quickly.

For continuous use, a worker will have one or more spare battery packs charging while drilling, and quickly swap them instead of having to wait an hour or more for recharging, although there are now Rapid Charge Batteries that can charge in 10–15 minutes.

Early cordless drills used interchangeable 7.2 V battery packs. Over the years battery voltages have increased, with 18 V drills being most common, but higher voltages are available, such as 24 V, 28 V, and 36 V. This allows these tools to produce as much torque as some corded drills.

Common battery types of are nickel-cadmium (NiCd) batteries and lithium-ion batteries, with each holding about half the market share. NiCd batteries have been around longer, so they are less expensive (their main advantage), but have more disadvantages compared to lithium-ion batteries. NiCd disadvantages are limited life, self-discharging, environment problems upon disposal, and eventually internally short circuiting due to dendrite growth. Lithium-ion batteries are becoming more common because of their short charging time, longer life, absence of memory effect, and low weight. Instead of charging a tool for an hour to get 20 minutes of use, 20 minutes of charge can run the tool for an hour. Lithium-ion batteries also hold a charge for a significantly longer time than nickel-cadmium batteries, about two years if not used, vs. 1 to 4 months for a nickel-cadmium battery.

When looking for the right cordless drills for your needs, you need to think about the types of jobs and projects you do the most and then research carious features that each model you are interested in has. You also will have a much easier time choosing if you understand a little bit about the different types of drills available.

The Most Common Types of Cordless Drills

Cordless drills come in a variety of sizes, styles and power output. You can get them professional grade or in more of a homeowner grade. These are great tools for speeding up the process of attaching and removing fasteners rather than having to do it by hand with a screwdriver or wrench. Cordless drills are also great for putting holes in all kinds of materials like plastic, wood, metal and even concrete. Thanks to advanced technology and drill companies working to improve efficiency, Cordless drills run a lot longer before needing to be re-charged.

Cordless drills have really progressed over the years to include the use of lithium-ion batteries that last significantly longer than others, LED lights for improved vision and even rapid battery chargers so your downtime is reduced. There are many other features as well that have really improved cordless drills in remarkable ways making them even more valuable for professionals and DIY-ers alike.

There are five basic types of cordless drills. Each one is designed to be better for specific uses and jobs. Get to know each type so you can match the cordless drill to the jobs and projects you will be using it for.

Cordless Screwdriver

Cordless screwdrivers are a fantastic tool to have on hand for assembling furniture, putting up pictures, removing cabinet doors and other lighter weight jobs. They are usually fairly small and very comfortable to use and even if you have other types of drills, having a dedicated cordless screwdriver can really make some of the simple jobs even faster.

Drill Drivers

The most popular drill with homeowners and professionals is the drill driver. You’ll be able to drive any type of fastener through all kinds of materials with this great tool. The tool free chuck allows users to change bits quickly. Normal drill drivers are much larger in size and are not usually good for small spaces due to not being able to maneuver the drill driver around sufficiently.

Impact Driver

If you need higher torque than a regular drill driver, you will want to look at Impact drivers. These are great for installing and removing nuts bolts and fasteners. They are much more compact than a drill driver and can be used in tighter spaces much easier. You will need hex shaft bits and accessories for this type of cordless drill. While great for automotive work and rough carpentry as well, impact drivers are not suited for drilling holes.

Hammer Drill

The hammer drill produces a forward thrust as well as rotation and allows users to drill through masonry materials along with driving fasteners in as well. This type of cordless drill weighs more than other varieties and it requires more battery power to run than the traditional styles but the strength is fantastic for professionals who might work with concrete, wood and metal on a regular basis.

Rotary Hammer Drills

Need more power? Rotary Hammer Drills are made to chisel through masonry with little problem. They are more effective than hammer drill/driver combinations at removing material. Cordless rotary hammers are very portable but they can weight over 10 pounds which makes them difficult to use for extended periods of time without getting fatigued. For the professional who drills and chisels through masonry on a regular basis, a rotary hammer drill is the perfect tool to add to the collection.

Which Cordless Drills are Best for Specific Jobs?

Different drills are going to be better for specific jobs than others. If you know which ones are suited for certain jobs before you start searching for the drill you want, you won’t end up with something that isn’t powerful enough or that is TOO much power.

  • Cordless drill/drivers – These are great for household projects and are the most common type of drill for users to buy
  • Cordless screwdrivers – The cordless screwdriver is great for assembling things and basic household projects. Not recommended for drilling holes or installing lag screws.
  • Cordless impact drivers – These are the drills that can handle the heavy-duty jobs and are great for professionals.

Is Buying More than One Cordless Drill Overkill?

Many professional contractors or remodelers buy several cordless drills to handle the different types of drilling jobs and projects that may be done. It is not uncommon for them to purchase a cordless screwdriver, impact driver and drill driver for example. What matters is that you choose models that will help you do the jobs at hand with much less difficulty and with greater speed. They do have combination styles that can do several types of job well, but overall, getting 2 or 3 different ones will cover all the bases and have you prepared for anything.

Cordless Drill Features and Considerations

There are many different price points available when it comes to cordless drills. The features available on different drills will also vary according to the type and style of drill it is. There are several things that you should have some knowledge about when it comes to drills so you can make an easier choice. Knowing this terminology and understanding what it means can make understanding what the drill actually does a lot easier. These features are outlined below:

Voltage

Volts are how the power of a particular drill is measured. Cordless drills can range anywhere from 2 to 24 volts. The higher the voltage the more powerful the drill is. When a cordless drill has a lot of power, it can overcome the more difficult jobs where there may be some resistance. The downside of these more powerful drills is that they usually weigh a lot more than the less powered variety. If you’re using your cordless drill for jobs around the house or for light remodeling projects, a 14 volt drill will do the job quite nicely. On the other hand, if you need a lot of torque and you’ll be working with masonry or other tough material, you’ll need to get a drill that has more power.

Chuck Size

The term chuck is what the clamp that holds the rotating bit in place is called. It’s an important feature to look at when shopping for a cordless drill because the chuck size determines the size of the bit that the drill can use. ½” and 3/8” are the two most common chuck sizes. If you’re going to be doing a lot of heavy duty work you will find that a ½” chuck will be much better and will handle the load a lot easier. Also, bigger drills are ½” chuck sized so a 3/8” size won’t fit.

Drill Speed

RPM or rotations per minute, is how the speed of a drill is measured. Single speed drills are usually the less expensive of the drills available and typically run at about 300 RPMs. These single speed models are great for screwing in screws and mails around the house. The more expensive varieties of cordless drills can operate at speeds of up to 1200 to 1500 RPMs and can handle drilling holes into very dense material such as masonry and hardwood as well as metal. Take note though that when drilling into metal, it is better to use a lower speed such as 700 RPMr, due to the fact that at higher RPMs you will burn up your bit. Metal needs to be drilled much slower than other materials so it doesn’t overheat. The higher RPM models are more expensive but the power and capability more than make up for the higher cost. There are also variable speed drills that have a trigger that the user can control the speed of the bit with.

Battery Type

No matter how good, expensive or fancy a cordless drill is, if it has an inferior battery. The better a battery is the better performance your drill will have and the longer it will last between charges. Battery longevity is going to be affected by a number of factors.

  • The material being drilled
  • The temperature
  • Is the drill in continuous use or intermittent use?

The more expensive types of cordless drills have battery power indicators that tell you how much battery life is left. The benefit to this meter is not having the battery completely drain in the middle of a project. It affords users the ability to plan for longer projects and make the necessary arrangements to either have a full charge before the project is started, or have a backup battery ready to go when the first one is drained.

There are several types of batteries on the market, the most popular being Nickel cadmium and Lithium-ion. Of the two, Nickel cadmium is the less expensive and is durable and lasts a long time. They have a recharge ability of about 1000 times which makes them really popular with users.

Lithium-ion batteries are more expensive but they have twice the energy density and are much lighter than nickel cadmium batteries. They don’t last as long but they don’t have the toxic chemicals that Nickel cadmium batteries have. The most common practice is for users to buy a second battery pack that goes with their cordless drill so they don’t have any downtime while waiting for the battery to be recharged.

Charger

There are basically three types of chargers available on the market today. The normal charger takes a few hours to fully charge a battery. Rapid chargers do the job much quicker and can fully charge a battery in 15 minutes. Smart chargers have an indicator to show you how far along  the charging process is and will turn itself off when fully charged.

Clutch

This is the feature on a cordless drill that disengages the drive shaft of the drill whenever the drill meets considerable resistance. You’ll be able to tell the clutch engaging because of the telltale clicking sound the drill will have during use. The clutch prevents screws from stripping and also keeps the motor from being overworked and burnt up. Different cordless drills have different clutch setting options. There are models that can offer as much as 24 different settings. The variable clutch settings are most often used by experienced carpenters that will tailor the drill to the particular material they are working with. For basic household tasks, a cordless drill with a variable clutch setting is not needed.

In addition to the standard features listed above, cordless drills can also have some really handy features that make your jobs and projects much easier. You may find that some cordless drills have:

  • LED lights built in for better visibility
  • Additional handles for working on heavier materials like masonry
  • Rotating handles
  • Electronic brakes

These are just a few of the extras that cordless drills can have. When you’re looking at the different models of cordless drills, take into consideration the jobs you want it for and that will help you decide just what features you NEED, what features you’d like to have, and what you don’t really care about or need. Some features will cause the price to be higher, but in these cases, the features are needed, so a higher cost is expected.

Grip

This is an important part of any cordless drill that you would consider purchasing. Purchasing a cordless drill with a comfortable grip is important, especially when you’re working with them for hours at a time. Because of new advanced designs, drill brands are creating ergonomic grips for a better user experience. Many have rubberized grips for even more comfort. If you already know that you suffer from wrist, elbow and shoulder issues, look for a lighter, compact model.

Forward/Reverse Switch

When a cordless drill has a forward/reverse switch you can change direction with literally the flip of a switch or press of a button. This can come in handy when screwing and unscrewing fasteners, etc.

Basic Cordless Drill Vocabulary

  • Ni-Cad – This is the shortened form that stands for Nickel cadmium battery
  • NiMH – Stands for Nickel Metal Hydride battery. These batteries have a much higher capacity than Ni-Cad batteries. They are less toxic than Ni-Cads but still shouldn’t be tossed in the garbage when dead because of the toxicity they still contain. They are more sensitive to temperatures than Ni-Cads also and can degrade when exposed to extreme heat or cold.
  • Li-Ion – Stands for Lithium-ion battery. These have no memory effect so there is no need for repeated conditioning. More expensive than other batteries but lasts longer.
  • Torque – This is the force that the drill uses to rotate the screw.
  • Chuck – Determines the size of the bit the drill holds
  • Max No Load RPM – Rotations per minute. This signifies the speed that the drill rotates. Higher RPMS mean higher power
  • Max Capacity – The largest bit size that can be used in a particular drill. This will vary according to the material being drilled
  • Clutch – Protects the drill motor if there is resistance during drilling
  • Variable Speed Trigger – The speed of the rotation of the drill is governed by how tightly the trigger is squeezed. The tighter the trigger is squeezed, the faster the drill bit rotates.
  • LED Light – Some cordless drills are equipped with built in LED lights that are great for working in darker areas. The increased visibility makes seeing what you’re doing much easier.

Brushless Motor vs. Brush Motor

High end drills and impact drivers are being designed with brushless motors more often now. Inside a regular electric motor, brushes are present and can wear down over time and need replacing. If a cordless drill has a brushless motor, it will inevitably be more expensive, but there are many benefits to having a brushless motor.

  • They are quieter
  • They produce less heat
  • They are more powerful
  • No replacements are needed

Check Before You Buy

Even if you plan on buying a cordless drill online, it is a good idea to spend some time in the home improvement store handling the drills that you are interested in. They usually have models out where you can pick them up and handle them a bit. The importance of this is so you can see how the drill feels in your hand. Since drills are so different, they will feel differently when you handle them. Many people like a heavier weight drill because it FEELS tough and durable in their hands. Keep in mind though, that you are going to be using this drill for all kinds of jobs and the heavier it is the more hand and wrist fatigue you will experience.

You can also test out different grips to see which one you prefer. Hold the drill in the horizontal and vertical positions to see how it feels. See how the grips feel in your hand. Is it comfortable? Does it feel too big or too small? Is it too heavy for long term jobs? While you can’t actually drill something in a home improvement store, handling the drill will give you a much better idea of what it will be like to use.

Matching the Drill to the Job

Below is some information on the type of drill you should look for when doing specific jobs. Each drill will offer different features and have different strengths and weaknesses. Knowing what to look for can narrow your choices to be much more manageable.

Light maintenance and repair – This will include such jobs as installing drape brackets, drilling holes for drywall anchors, assembling furniture, grills, exercise equipment, etc, installing new cabinet and drawer handles and knobs, removing or replacing door hinges. All of these types of tasks are relatively quick so you don’t need a cordless drill with two batteries. To cover drilling holes and driving screws, make sure your drill has two fixed speeds and a variable speed option and look for an adjustable clutch as well. A drill that is in the 6 to 7.2 volt range will be great for these types of jobs.

Repair and Remodeling – These jobs are a bit more involved and will include building storage racks or storage closet shelving, replacing deck railings and fence pickets, drilling pilot holes, driving screws into plywood or hardwood, hanging drywall and making furniture. The drill you want will have a variable speed, two speed ranges, a clutch, and T-handle as well. Get another battery as well so you don’t have to start in the middle of a project. The best drill for these tops of jobs will be at least a 9.6 volt. A 12 volt will be even better but it will be a bit heavier.

Heavy Duty Construction Work – This type of work requires a strong drill. Jobs that you would be doing could include drilling holes for bolts and spikes in pressure treated wood, drilling spikes into landscape timbers, masonry walls, installing decking, driving into steel. You will need a MINIMUM 12 volt cordless drill for these types of jobs. They are heavier and more expensive but due to the heavy load, you will need that heavier weight and stronger drill so you don’t burn them up. If you need a refresher on how to use a cordless drill, check the video out below!

Conclusion

Choose a drill that has the features that you require in a cordless drill. If you need it for drilling mainly, pick a drill with a high speed rating. The higher the speed rating, the better the drill is at drilling holes. If your priority is driving screws, choose a cordless drill with a high torque rating and multiple torque settings.

To sum up the buying tips – the best cordless drill is not always the most expensive drill and the best value for money drill is not always the cheapest. Have a clear idea of what for and how you will use your new cordless drill, set a budget and then read through our cordless drill reviews keeping in mind what features you need in the product. Use our cordless drill comparison chart to compare the specifications of the different models. When buying power tools, always make sure that you get a warranty with the tool. There is nothing more frustrating than having a power tool failing on you after a month of use and no warranty to fall back on. That is why we recommend you stick to the known and trusted brands.

Once you know the type of projects and jobs you’ll be using your cordless drill for, choosing the right one becomes much easier. With all of the above information you will be able to read the specs on any drill and have a better idea of what all that means and what your drill will be able to do. Don’t forget to check for money back guarantees and warranties as well and you will be able to feel assured that the drill you choose is one you will be happy with and use a lot.